It’s time to heal up and plan for the final push.
Long rest. Short rest. It is a moment for healing potions, curatives and salves, binding and bandages.
The rules mechanic your game uses to create space before the weary and battle-worn characters throw them into the breach is worth utilizing, of course.
But there is so much more than healing up before the big push — if you wish to make it a memorable encounter.
The characters are on the verge of the big showdown, be it the climatic moment of the session or before the final battle of an involved adventure or long-running campaign.
Game-wise, this is a moment where an account of the players’ status takes place.
Heal the wounded and revitalize those hit points. Check supplies for spell components and ammunition.
Take notes as the players settle on a plan for the adventuring party: What magic in the inventory can be expended in this moment? How will the characters be positioned strategically and tactically?
That’s all well and good.
But don’t forget this is a great opportunity to build drama narratively. In fact, it might be as important — if not more important — to give this moment the roleplaying space it deserves.
The characters come to this point, presumably, after many challenges have been met. Remind them of the bruises, wounds, and injuries they have sustained. Do they have dents in their armor? Gouges and notches in their blades? Are their clothes in any way torn or ragged? Is this the moment to regroup and rally against overwhelming odds?
Point out to them these and other details. Figuratively, hold up a mirror to them in this moment — let them see where adventure and exhaustion have pushed them.
It’s worth a nudge to the players to look at the personality side of their character sheet. What are their scores for intelligence, wisdom and charisma? Any deficiencies? The odds are against them, so how fares their nerve, resolve and confidence? Is it a false bravado? Is it time for a character to profess or confess or address something, to the party at large or “privately” to any member of the company?
This IS the big scene before the final battle. Here is where pledges of devotion and last vows are made.
The character whose mortality is most at risk in the coming fight might make a final request to see that a message is returned to loved ones. A character responsible for inspiring the company can make their expression of comradery or full devotion. A character in a position of leadership might remind them what they are fighting for, whether it is treasure, glory or the greater good.
As I said, it’s well worth it to encourage RP in this moment. There is no timetable (not really; the big, bad, evil foe isn’t going anywhere).
It’s worth reminding the party of how they appear after so many trials. It’s worth giving them a chance at a spotlight farewell: the last words spoken before crossing the threshold of this final confrontation.
Regardless of the outcome — such a fully realized roleplaying moment will sure to be the talk of your table for years to come.